- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Four D.C. firefighters who responded to the emergency call for New York Times journalist David E. Rosenbaum in January were told yesterday that they face internal charges that could result in their termination.

Fire department sources said the crew of Engine 20 — Anthony Fields, Reginald Chandler, Michael Roy and Frelimo Simba — were charged with failing to follow medical protocols and obstructing the investigation into Mr. Rosenbaum’s fatal beating.

Department spokeswoman Kathryn Friedman would not confirm the charges, but she said Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson had taken action against the crew.

“Additional personnel actions were initiated today for individuals who responded to the Gramercy Street incident,” Miss Friedman said.

Lt. Ray Sneed, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association, said he will not commentuntil the union’s attorneys review the charges.

Mr. Rosenbaum, 63, was robbed and beaten Jan. 6 in Northwest and died two days later. The emergency response to his beating revealed glaring deficiencies in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, the D.C. Office of the Inspector General reported June 16.

According to the report, firefighters who responded to the scene did not assess or treat Mr. Rosenbaum correctly. They detected the odor of alcohol and discounted other potential causes of Mr. Rosenbaum’s symptoms because of it.

In addition, the first responders did not understand the scope of their jobs and the basic protocols for patient care, according to the report, which does not identify the crew members by name.

Mr. Fields, who has served 24 years on the job at Engine 20, was acting as engine officer the night of the incident. He joined the department before a firefighter was required to be trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT), and his certification to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) had expired.

Mr. Chandler, a 14-year veteran, was detailed to the short-staffed Engine 20 from his post at Engine 9.

Mr. Roy has served on the department for almost four years and has been stationed at Engine 20 for 1 years. He was the most highly trained EMT on the scene, but according to the inspector general’s report, deferred patient care decisions to Mr. Simba, a 15-year veteran who has been stationed at Engine 20 for four years.

Moreover, the report documented inconsistent stories told by the men during interviews with fire officials and the Office of the Inspector General’s investigators. The report also noted one case in which a fire department logbook containing information about the incident appeared to have been doctored.

City officials have said they expect a personnel review of department workers involved in the case to be completed later this week.

The department has begun termination proceedings against Selena Walker, who drove the ambulance that responded to the scene.

Jerome Stack, assistant director of EMS operations, was suspended for 10 days, and EMS supervisor Harry Jones retired instead of accepting a reduction in rank.

Deputy Chief Michael L. Willis, the department’s director of training, was suspended for three days and reassigned to the department’s Office of Risk Management.

Sheila Watson, the EMS training director, was reassigned.

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